TWU sounds off on Hochul's 5-point subway safety plan, including using National Guard for security

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Transport Workers Union sound alarm over Hochul's subway safety plan
Anthony Carlo has more on Hochul's plan and the debate surrounding subway crime.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Concerns continue following Governor Kathy Hochul's plan to beat subway crime, as the Transport Workers Union says it simply falls short of providing a sustainable long-term solution.

On Tuesday, officials from TWU Local 100 pushed back, even as the governor hopes her efforts will show results.

"Governor Hochul's deployment of the National Guard acknowledges the serious problem of transit crime," the union said in a statement. "But it falls short of providing a sustainable, long-term solution to transit crime."

Hochul's plan involves using National Guard members as security support during random bag checks, as well as flooding the system with state and MTA officers to help protect New Yorkers.

The union is also calling out Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for what they call is a lack of action, with minimal penalties and fast releases.

"Most of the people that's being arrested have priors," said TWU Local 100 President Richard Davis. "If you look at their record, they have multiple, multiple arrests.. multiple times have been in jail, and the courtroom is like a revolving door. They come right back out on the street."

Davis says one of his transit workers was spat on by an unruly rider, but the union president said the MTA is constantly spitting in the face of its workers by not doing enough to protect them.

"I would like to walk to 2 Broadway and spit in Janno Lieber's face and see if he'll take it from me, and then we'll see if that's OK," Davis said.

The TWU took out a full-page ad in the New York Post featuring Bragg and MTA Chairman Janno Lieber as "Dumb and Dumber."

The Union is also calling for more effective safety meetings with transit leadership that actually resolve the safety concerns transit workers have.

Davis also said violent assaults on transit workers are on the rise. He referenced two assault cases, including Noreen Mallory, a subway station agent who was repeatedly punched in the eye last month.

He says the attacker faces a maximum of two years in prison on second degree assault, which is just not enough. It's just part of the problem.

A spokesperson for Bragg released a statement in response to TWU:

"Manhattan is the only borough in the city where transit crime is down, yet ironically the only local elected official named at today's press conference was Alvin Bragg. We make charging decisions based on facts and evidence, and anyone who jeopardizes the safety of passengers or transit workers is held accountable. The continued decrease in transit crime throughout the borough is the result of our comprehensive strategy and close collaboration with our law enforcement partners. We care deeply about the safety of TWU members. We have offered and continue to welcome a meeting with TWU leadership, so we can have a productive conversation with real solutions that will hold up in court."

Meanwhile Lieber said being on page 9 of the Post is better than being on Page Six and he thought his "Dumb and Dumber" outfit was slenderizing.

"My view is the NYPD is doing a hell of a job in the subway system, we need to work, the governor has brought in additional resources, the NYPD has the MTA's full confidence," Leiber said. "That's what I'm going to say and that's what we are going to keep saying."

Efforts to fight crime in the subway

Governor Hochul believes her efforts will help curb crime in the system.

"We have to calm things down right now, get back to a sense of normal, and I think it's just an element to do that. It's a five-point plan, also to keep people who have committed a violent assault against another passenger or a conductor, they shouldn't be riding the train, people who have done that should not be on our trains," Hochul said. "We're working with our district attorneys and law enforcement and meeting every week and if someone is committing crimes on the subway, making sure they don't become a repeat offender."

Mayor Adams, on Tuesday, praised the presence of the National Guard and state police in the transit system.

"I would love to have that state trooper standing there," he said. "I think their uniforms are cool as hell. Having them being there, standing in the subway system. People like seeing it. That's what we are fighting."

Crime on the subways is up by 13.2% overall for the year according to NYPD statistics.

The governor deployed the soldiers after denying the city's request for millions in overtime funding for the NYPD. Last week, the department's Chief of Patrol suggests that was a mistake.

"Our transit system is not a war zone," Chief John Chell posted on social media. "Bag checks have been around since 2005?"

While the deployments may make riders feel safer, jailing repeat offenders, he says, will actually make them safer.

"What we want the judges to do, when they have the opportunity to put a really bad recidivist, take them off the street after we do our job, the DA does their job and the judges do their job," Chell said. "That's what we want. You take care of those recidivists, crime will plummet in the city and the city will prosper and we're still the safest city in the world."

While some riders said they do feel safer, others think it sends the wrong message.

"New Yorkers want the subway to be safe, but the National Guard belong in Hamilton County, they belong in Erie County, not in New York City," said urban studies Professor Mitchell Moss. "The subways need to be safer and we need police to do that."

ALSO READ | Man accused of squatting in Queens home faces judge, promises 'revelation' in case

7 On Your Side Investigative reporter Dan Krauth has the story.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More Manhattan news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube